Furious locals at a Yorkshire fishing village are ‘heartbroken’ as they accuse city-dwelling staycationers of ‘killing’ their community by snapping up ‘all but five’ properties to use as second homes and holiday lets while house prices ‘go through the roof’.
Robin Hood’s Bay, an idyllic seaside spot around six miles south of Whitby in the North York Moors National Park, surged in popularity among locked-down Britons who were discouraged from taking foreign holidays during the Covid crisis.
Most properties have since been gobbled up as second homes or holiday lets by urban outsiders ‘within hours of being listed’, with rocketing prices – in some cases, almost doubling in the past eight years – now preventing many families from getting their foot on the housing ladder.
Angry residents have blasted the ‘absolute nightmare’ trend of staycationers buying local homes, and are now calling for ‘more balance’, warning that those who have lived in Robin Hood’s Bay for decades are seeing the community dwindle.
Katie Wallis, who works at her boyfriend’s mother’s sweet store, vented she is finding it impossible to find a property for her and her partner.
The frustrated 26-year-old added: ‘The problem is there’s becoming so few locals now there’s hardly enough people to help run the shops and restaurants. I think it’s just at its capacity – there’s too many tourists to locals ratio.
‘Everything’s just gone rocket high. For people like me and my boyfriend – trying to get our first property is ridiculous. Even renting is hard; a flat in Whitby the size of this shop will cost you £600 a month.
All but five properties have since been snapped up as second homes or holiday lets by urban ‘outsiders’, with rocketing prices now preventing many young families from getting their foot on the housing ladder
Katie Wallis (left) and Phil Hammill (right) have described mounting local fury
Robin Hood’s Bay, located six miles south of Whitby in the North York Moors National Park
Robin Hood’s Bay surged in popularity among locked-down Britons discouraged from taking foreign holidays by the Government during the Covid crisis
Furious residents have described the trend as ‘an absolute nightmare’ and are now calling for ‘more balance’, warning that those who have lived in Robin Hood’s Bay for decades are seeing the community dwindle
A map showing the most sought-after second home towns for British city dwellers, with Salcombe, Falmouth, St Ives, Brixham and Newquay in the South West all within the top six in demand
£3K for a week in a CARAVAN in Cornwall and £4,500-A-NIGHT to stay at seven-bed house in Windsor: Fury over ‘obscene’ prices for holiday rentals as staycation firms are accused of ‘exploiting’ families this summer
Those dying for a staycation in Cornwall could fork out £3,292 for seven nights in August in a two-bedroom caravan close to Newquay
Landlords have been blasted for charging ‘totally obscene’ prices for their holiday homes in popular destinations in the UK.
Councillors slammed homeowners after it emerged they were charging up to £71,000 for a week’s staycation last summer.
They warned the ‘extortionate, eye-watering’ costs are designed to attract a ‘certain kind of holidaymaker’ and price out ‘hard working people’.
It comes after a father of three from Yorkshire revealed a three-bedroom property in St Ives in Cornwall for a week would set him back £10,232-per-night.
The advert for the mobile home claimed it could sleep six people, with one bathroom for them to share. It also listed a swimming pool, hot tub and TV among the amenities
Conservative councillor Paul Nickerson was using booking site Vrbo, which had other holiday homes listed for sky high prices last July.
A week at a caravan park in Newquay would have set a tourist back £3,000 while a stay at a five-bedroom house near Windsor would have been £33,000, according to the website.
It also listed an Old Rectory in the Cotswolds at £16,000 for seven days as well as a four-bedroom townhouse in Devoran, Cornwall at £4,000 for the same time period.
‘It’s hard for me because I want them to come here but at the same time I do want to live here. I think there’s enough holiday cottages and I don’t think you can have more people.’
One disgruntled woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said housing issues were ‘killing’ Robin Hood’s Bay.
She said: ‘Everyone who owns a business wants it to be a tourist spot but everyone who doesn’t own a business doesn’t want that. It’s made house prices ridiculous and there’s now no young families and no children.’
The woman, who has lived in the village since the 1960s, said it was a genuine village back then, whereas now it was more like Beamish, a reference to the open museum in County Durham which tells the story of bygone life in northern England.
Adding that there was a division between the locals and those profiting off the tourists, she said: ‘It’s wrong to say because we’re all tourists wherever you go so you’ve got to be accommodating.
‘But if you come again in a few weeks you’ll see how the tourists are parked across everyone’s drive and the ambulances can’t come round. There’s two sides to it.’
She said that the community has changed since she first moved, saying that ‘everybody got on with everybody back then’.
She added: ‘But tourism is the train you can’t stop. It’s beautiful and it’s lovely here and we’re not knocking tourism because a lot of people depends on it but not everyone does. And that’s what’s sad.’
The woman estimated that the population was now a 70:30 split between holiday homes and villagers.
She said: ‘It’s heartbreaking. I love it otherwise I wouldn’t live here but there’s been a big change in the last two years. If you’re not fast enough you can’t buy a house and if you’re a young couple you won’t earn enough money.
‘How are you going to be able get a mortgage for a £350,000 little three-bedroom house?’.
Becca Oliver, who was born and raised in the village and works at The Old Drapery clothing store, said she bought her detached three-bedroom house in the top end for £225,000 eight years ago, adding that a nearby bungalow sold recently for £420,000.
‘I think housing’s quite a contentious issue in the village, isn’t it?’, Miss Oliver said. ‘In the last few years I can’t see how local families can afford properties around here because the prices are so high and people from London or wherever can afford it but local people can’t.
‘It’s pushing people out and it’s worrying in terms of the school and things like that. Are we going to lose those sort of things?
‘It’s finding that balance. I’m not slating holiday makers because we need them and we love having them but it’s about finding that balance for both. We have a great community with lovely people and we don’t want to lost that.’
Asked if she felt the village was achieving that balance currently, she said: ‘No, it’s not quite right.’
Phil Hammill, who runs a gift store with his partner Jessica Hogarth, said that the recent change in property ownership had been ‘noticeable’.
‘There’s been a big shift of holiday homes being bought. A lot of places aren’t even going online or to estate agents and people aren’t even seeing them,’ he said.
Residents say that in the bottom area of the village it is believed that as few as five properties have long-term occupants.
The top end of the village, which is blighted with parking issues during the busier months, has a greater number of residents, but the problems faced in the village are still keenly felt.
The trend of second homeowning appears to have spiked during the pandemic, with second homeowners in Wales facing a 300 per cent tax hike next year in a bid to stop locals being priced out of the country’s property market.
Mark Drakeford’s government declared it is increasing the maximum level that local authorities can set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties by up to four times.
Michael Gove launches a tax crackdown on second-home owners who ‘pretend’ to let their properties out to holidaymakers
Second-home owners who ‘pretend’ to let their properties out to holidaymakers face a tax crackdown from Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal Mr Gove is threatening to hit them with new bills which could run to over £1,000 a year, to stop them abusing a tax loophole.
His officials say the crackdown will benefit destinations including the Lake District, Devon and Cornwall by encouraging tourism.
Under current rules, second-home owners in England can avoid paying council tax by saying they intend to let their properties out to other holidaymakers and so qualify as small businesses.
However, the vast majority of the 65,000 such ‘holiday lets’ in England can also then benefit from business rates relief of 100 per cent depending on the properties’ value.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) also says that there is currently ‘no requirement’ to produce evidence that a second home has actually been let out – not just left empty.
It means that, from April 2023, councils will be able set the premium at any level up to the maximum, depending what is appropriate for their local circumstances. Some may choose to apply different rates for second homes and long-term empty dwellings.
Currently, the maximum premium councils can charge is 100 per cent – so the new policy constitutes a possible tax rise of 200 per cent.
Ministers claimed the change is intended to provide a clearer demonstration that the properties concerned are being let regularly as part of genuine holiday accommodation businesses that are making a substantial contribution to the local economy.
However, one homeowners’ group has furiously branded the move ‘morally indefensible’. Jonathan Martin, a spokesman for the Home Owners of Wales Group, told BBC Radio Wales Breakfast: ‘Where do they think we’re going to get this 300 per cent from?
‘I can’t afford it, that’s for sure and I’m quite sure a lot of other people can’t afford it. It’s just astounding.’
The measures are part of a wider move to address the issue of second homes and lack of affordable housing facing many communities in Wales, as set out in the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru in 2021.
Official figures show there were 24,873 second homes in Wales registered for council tax purposes in January 2021.
But the number could be much higher, depending on the exact definition of a second home, officials warned.
This is because this number does not include holiday units, like AirBnbs and holiday lets, which are registered for businesses rates rather than those under second homes.
Gwynedd has the highest number of second homes at 5,098 – 20 per cent of all second homes in Wales.
This is followed by Pembrokeshire with 4,072, Anglesey with 2,112 and Ceredigion with 1,735, according to council and Welsh government figures for 2020. In Llanengan, near Abersoch in Gwynedd, nearly 40 per cent of all homes were second homes, according to figures from 2016.
Under the broader definition of second homes to include holiday lets, these made up 46 per cent of homes in Abersoch, 43 per cent in Aberdyfi and 34 per cent in Beddgelert.
And the coastal village of Abersoch sees its population of 600 skyrocket to 30,000 in the summer.
Campaigners are concerned that second homes are causing a rise in house prices in seaside and rural communities which is pricing out locals.
Pictured: Coloured houses overlooking the harbour in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Pictured: A row of coloured houses along the coast in Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey
Tide turns for ‘doomed’ seaside village: House prices as much as TRIPLE in a year along Welsh coastline… despite fears 1,300 homes could be swept away by flooding
The tide has turned for a seaside village deemed to be ‘doomed’ as house prices have tripled along the Welsh coastline – despite fears some 1,300 homes could be swept away by flooding.
Families feared the worst when it was warned that hundreds of properties would eventually be swallowed by waves in Fairbourne, because the government is to stop repairing sea defences.
But people are now flocking to buy houses and bungalows in the picturesque village with panoramic views over the sea.
The tide has turned for a seaside village deemed to be ‘doomed’ as house prices have tripled along the Welsh coastline – despite fears some 1,300 homes could be swept away by flooding
Property site Rightmove says that in the past year, prices shot up by some 35 per cent in some areas.
It comes against warnings that sea walls and barriers in 48 areas round the coastline will only be maintained for the next 15 years before they are left to be battered by high tides.
But that has not stopped the stampede of people making the most of the sea views. Most purchasers are thought to be cash buyers as few lenders will offer mortgages in a place with a finite lifespan.
The Welsh Housing Justice Charter campaign group said it receives calls from nurses, teachers, firefighters and those working on lifeboats who could not afford to live near where they work and volunteer.
But some second homeowners said they feel ‘discriminated against’ and called on councils to halt tax increases on second homes.
Others said they feel like they are being scapegoated for what they branded Welsh government failures on affordable homes.
In the 2022-23 tax year, nine authorities will charge a premium – from 25 per cent in Conwy and Ceredigion, 50 per cent in Anglesey, Flintshire, Denbighshire and Powys, and 100 per cent in Gwynedd, Pembrokeshire and Swansea.
Both Pembrokeshire and Gwynedd have the largest number of second homes that are subject to a premium, at 3,746 and 3,794 respectively.
Mr Martin, who lives in Altrincham and has a second home in Gwynedd, said most of the group visit their homes regularly.
He added: ‘They love Wales, they love Welsh people, they love the Welsh language, they love the Welsh culture. That’s why they have a home there.’
He also criticised the timing following the pandemic and amid the rising cost of living.
‘I think the biggest threat to the Welsh government will be that we’ve been advised it’s absolutely unlawful,’ he claimed.
‘So I don’t know where we go from that but we’ll have to have a big discussion as a group. We’re financially able to take on the Welsh government if they forced this through without further acquiescence with us.’
Welsh Tories accused Mr Drakeford’s ministers of ‘punishing aspiration and investment’.
Janet Finch-Saunders, who speaks for the Welsh Conservatives on housing, accused Labour of ‘pandering to their nationalist coalition partners and punishing aspiration and investment in Wales’.
She raged: ‘The housing crisis is a direct result of years of successive Labour-led governments failing to provide opportunities and build enough houses, with housebuilding falling below levels before devolution.’
Finch-Saunders added there were ‘more empty homes in Wales than there are second homes’ and this was not being addressed by ministers.
She called on the administration to ‘get a grip’ and ‘address the housing shortage in Wales’.
Climate change minister Julie James said: ‘We want people to be able to live and work in their local communities, but we know rising house prices are putting them out of reach of many people, exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis we are facing.
‘There is no easy answer or quick-fix solution. This is a complex problem that requires a wide range of actions.
‘We continue to carefully consider further measures that could be introduced, and these changes are the latest steps we are taking to increase the availability of homes and ensure a fair contribution is made.’
Finance minister Rebecca Evans added: ‘These changes will give more flexibility to local authorities and provide more support to local communities in addressing the negative impacts that second homes and long-term empty properties can have.
Pictured: A row of white seaside cottages in Moelfre, Anglesey, Wales
Pictured: A view of coloured houses overlooking Tenby harbour in Pembrokeshire
‘They are some of the levers we have available to us as we seek to create a fairer system.’
The criteria for self-catering accommodation being liable for business rates instead of council tax will also change.
At the moment, properties that are available to let for at least 140 days and that are actually let for at least 70 days will pay rates rather than council tax.
But from next April, the threshold will increase for properties available to let for at least 252 days and actually let for at least 182 days in any 12-month period.
Sian Gwenllian MS said: ‘It is clear that we as a country are facing a housing crisis. So many people cannot afford to live in their local areas, and the situation has worsened during the pandemic.
‘These changes will make a difference, enabling councils to respond to their local circumstances and start to close the loophole in the current law. It’s a first but important step on a journey towards a new housing system that ensures that people have the right to live in their community.’